The saga is finally over for Minnesota United and its first-ever captain.
A source close to the team confirmed Tuesday that United will buy out Vadim Demidov's contract, his salary worth a team-high $550,000, ahead of the roster compliance deadline of Thursday. The team is expected to make the formal announcement Wednesday.
Demidov played and started just three games in the Loons' inaugural year in Major League Soccer, which happened to be all of the squad's biggest losses to start the season. He rapidly fell out of favor, eventually relinquishing the captaincy to fellow center back Francisco Calvo. United had been trying to offload the 31-year-old from Norway for months, but a buyout became the only option.
Terms of the buyout deal are not known. Demidov's removal from the roster frees up a much-needed international roster spot. The Loons now have 10 players for eight spots and must make up the difference by the Thursday deadline. Those 10 players are Michael Boxall, Calvo, Abu Danladi, Luiz Fernando, Jose Leiton, Sam Nicholson, Bertrand Owundi Eko'o, Frantz Pangop, Rasmus Schuller and Jerome Thiesson. Johan Venegas is also an international, but he won't count this season as he is on loan.
Leiton, who came to United on loan last summer from Costa Rica, was again absent form practice Tuesday at the National Sports Center. Heath said during the preseason trip in Charleston that Leiton was back in his home country dealing with personal issues, so his departure could open up another slot. A source also said Thiesson, Danladi and Nicholson are all in the process of acquiring green cards. So if any of them are far enough along in that, they might not need an international slot either.
There's also no update on the Simon Dawkins situation. But he would need a international slot, too, as an England native.
Some other updates from practice:
Midfielder Harrison Heath, left back Marc Burch and Danladi all worked separately dealing with injuries while midfielder Kevin Molino, midfielder Sam Cronin and midfielder Xavier Gomez were all absent (United is expected to make its announcement on which SuperDraft picks it will keep Wednesday).
Coach Adrian Heath said the season opener 9:30 p.m. Saturday at San Jose would probably be too soon for Burch (ankle) and Harrison Heath (knee). He said his son Harrison strained his MCL blocking a Christian Ramirez shot earlier in preseason and that Burch's injury is a bit worse than initially anticipated. But he expects Danladi (muscle strain) and Molino (hamstring) will be fine.
"It's a little bit tight," Molino said Tuesday of his hamstring. "I'm not going to rush and throw back myself two weeks, three weeks. The important thing is, that is why we have 20-some guys. Players can fill in and play the role. I'll see how I feel tomorrow."